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Donegal dig begins for missing schoolgirl Mary Boyle

Gardai investigating the disappearance of Co Donegal schoolgirl Mary Boyle have started a dig near Ballyshannon
Connla Young and Gerry McLaughlin

Gardaí have carried out a dig for the remains of Co Donegal schoolgirl Mary Boyle who vanished without a trace almost 40 years ago.

The search for the six-year-old took place close to where she was last seen near Ballyshannon in March 1977.

She is believed to have been murdered and her body possibly buried on bogland close to the Co Fermanagh border.

Previous searches have yielded no clues.

The search, which began at 7am yesterday, focused on a site near a disused quarry.

The search area is about four miles from Ballyshannon and three miles from the border town of Belleek.

A digger was used to search a pool of water on the land.

Officers and a forensic anthropologist were at the scene for around seven hours before leaving after nothing was found.

A local source said the area searched was covered in deep water.

"There would be a lot of water in that pool and they were there from 7am in the morning. It is fairly deep in there too as it was near an old feldspar quarry."

Earlier this week gardai revealed that a special cold case unit was now investigating the child's disappearance.

It has also emerged that Mary's identical twin sister Ann Doherty is set to meet PSNI detectives over claims that someone in Co Fermanagh may have information that could help the investigation.

It is understood Ann was not told that yesterday's dig was due to take place.

New claims about Mary's disappearance were made last week in an online documentary by investigative journalist Gemma O'Doherty, which has been viewed over 100,000 times.

It suggests that political pressure was put on gardaí in Co Donegal not to question relatives of a man regarded as the chief suspect, who was known to Mary and her family.

The suspect continues to live in Co Donegal and has never been arrested.

An inquest into the suspected death has never been held.

Veteran Donegal TD Pat `the Cope' Gallagher has said he was not the alleged political figure.

The search came ahead of a planned 'March for Mary' that is due to take place in Ballyshannon today at 2pm.

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